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article imageFamily of Trump son-in-law in $4 bn deal with Chinese company

By AFP     Mar 14, 2017 in Business

A company owned by the family of President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is set to receive more than $400 million from a Chinese firm that is investing in its Manhattan office tower, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The Kushner Companies deal with Anbang Insurance Group for the property at 666 Fifth Avenue is worth $4 billion, with real estate experts calling it an unusually favourable deal for the Kushners, the report said.

It would value the 41-story tower at $2.85 billion, the most ever for a single building in wealthy Manhattan.

The investment deal gives Kushner Companies a cash payout, an equity stake in a new partnership and refinancing of $1.14 billion in existing mortgage debt, said Bloomberg, which obtained details of the agreement which is being circulated to attract other investors.

A large chunk of a $250 million loan will be forgiven, allowing it to be cleared for $50 million, the report said.

"This is a huge, huge exit strategy for an office building," lawyer Joshua Stein told Bloomberg.

"It does sound like a home run of a transaction for Kushner and his group.”

Anbang has "murky links to the Chinese power structure" and its previous investments in the United States have raised concerns over national security, Bloomberg said.

But Kushner Companies spokesman James Yolles was reported as saying that Jared Kushner, the husband of Trump's daughter Ivanka and a senior advisor to the president, had sold his stake in 666 Fifth Avenue so there was no conflict of interest.

But the deal raises the possibility of a "sweetheart deal" for the Kushners, said Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.

"A classic way you influence people is by financially helping their family," he told Bloomberg.

Trump's own business links with China -- he holds at least 72 trademarks in the country and has as many as 45 such applications pending -- have prompted warnings that he could potentially violate the US constitution and leave himself exposed to charges of conflicts of interest.

Anbang's ownership is unclear. It has no publicly listed units and does not name its shareholders on its website.

Established just 13 years ago, Anbang has grown from a domestic seller of property insurance into a financial services powerhouse, making a name for itself abroad by buying New York's historic Waldorf Astoria hotel for a record $1.95 billion in 2014.

Last year, Anbang paid hedge fund Blackstone $6.5 billion for 16 luxury properties. It also made a $14 billion dollar bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, but suddenly rescinded the offer last April citing "market considerations".

At the time, respected Chinese business magazine Caixin reported that China's insurance regulator opposed Anbang's multi-billion-dollar bids for Starwood and the Blackstone properties

It remains to be seen whether Anbang's campaign to become an international hotelier will be stymied by Beijing's current efforts to stem capital outflows.

China has urged domestic companies to avoid "irrational" overseas investments, citing real estate and hotels among those fields being closely monitored by regulatory departments.

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